• US: Dow: 13025.00 (0.02%), S&P 500: 1415.85 (-0.01%), NASDAQ: 3010.24 (-0.06%)
• Europe: CAC: 3557.28 (-0.33%), DAX: 7405.50 (0.06%), FTSE: 5866.82 (-0.06%).
• Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4506.00 (0.63%), China: 1980.12 (0.84%), Hong Kong: 22030.39 (0.49%), India: 5879.85 (0.94%), Japan: 9446.01 (0.48%).
• Metals: Gold: 1710.90 (-0.94%), Silver: 33.20 (-3.33%), Copper: 3.63 (1.14%)
• Energy: Crude Oil: 88.91 (0.95%), Natural Gas: 3.85 (-0.77%)
• Commodities: Corn: 7.52 (-0.79%), Soya Bean: 14.38 (-0.64%), Wheat: 8.63 (-2.48%)
• Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3006 (-0.25%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6026 (0.09%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 82.3850 (0.32%)
• 10 year US Treasury: 1.615% (-0.001)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end largely unchanged: U.S. markets closed flat on Friday as investors remained cautious amid the political logjam in Washington. On the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer gained to 50.4 in November, following two consecutive months of declines. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) edged up 3.22 points to 13,025.04. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) and the NASDAQComposite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) ended narrowly mixed. The Dow and S&P 500 were flat for the week, while the NASDAQ posted a weekly gain of 1.4 percent.
Oil prices rise: Oil prices gained on Friday, ending the month up about 3 percent, amid signs that economic expansion in the U.S. is accelerating. Prices were also boosted by continued Middle East tensions that reinforced fears of supply disruptions. Crude oil for January delivery added 1 percent, to settle at $88.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for January settlement gained 0.3 percent to $111.14 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
• Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) closed lower despite accelerating the payment of a quarterly dividend of 51.5 cents per share.
• Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) gained 0.7 percent after announcing that chief executive Alex Gorsky will succeed chairman Bill Weldon when he steps down from his position at the end of next month.
• Struggling women’s clothing retailer Christopher & Banks Corporation (NYSE:CBK) soared 24 percent after posting a surprise quarterly profit. The company said third quarter profit came in at $3.6 million, or 10 cents per share, compared to a loss of $13.7 million, or 39 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue gained 2 percent to $117.3 million from $114.6 million.
• Private equity giant The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) has emerged as the frontrunner in the auction for healthcare technology company Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:MDRX), but a deal is highly uncertain given the high premium sought by Allscripts, Reuters reported on Friday.
• Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) fell 7.7 percent a day after its board meeting ended with no change to its chief executive position. Investors, who were hoping for a leadership change, were disappointed by the news.
• Verisign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN) tumbled 13 percent after the internet registry operator lost certain rights to increase prices under a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
• MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS) rallied 5 percent as Guggenheim Securities LLC analyst Shing Yin said the wireless carrier could get a bid in the next one to four weeks from Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S).
• Biotechnology company Enzon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ENZN) jumped 8 percent after its board declared a special dividend of $2.
• Diversified manufacturer Dover Corporation (NYSE:DOV) has acquired California-based glass-door maker Anthony International from private-equity firm Avista Capital Partners for $602.5 million.
• Exelixis, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXEL) fell 6.7 percent a day after receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its thyroid cancer drug Cometriq.
• Specialty retailer Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSUN) tanked 20 percent after issuing a modest forecast for its fourth quarter. The company expects to post fourth quarter adjusted loss of 9 to 17 cents per share with revenue of $225 million to $235 million. Analysts had projected a loss of 9 cents per share on revenue of $221.7 million.
• Digital sensor maker OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:OVTI) dropped 5 percent as its second-quarter gross margin declined to 16.6 percent from 30.6 percent in the year-ago period.
• Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) jumped 5 percent amid renewed market speculation that Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) will acquire the company.
Hedge Fund News Update
• The number of emerging-markets hedge funds reached record highs in the third quarter, according to data provided by industry research firm HFR. The total hedge-fund capital invested in emerging markets stood at $127.8 billion at the end of the third quarter.
• David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management is up 25 percent for the year before fees, outperforming the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) by close to 900 basis points during the same period.
• Texas-based hedge fund Kleinheinz Capital Partners Inc. will return investors’ money, according to a report in Bloomberg News.
• Two Nomura analysts wrote in a report that Greece’s bond buyback, expected to be unveiled on Monday, won’t be a “resounding success” because hedge funds that have accumulated as much as 22 billion euros ($28.6 billion) of debt will hold out for higher prices.
• Canadian telecom operator Telus Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TU) (TSE:T) said that it believed Mason Capital Management LLC, with which it has been squabbling for months, has begun to sell down its stake in company, according to a Reuters report.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Friday, November 30, 2012
• Active Network Inc (NYSE:ACTV) was lifted to “buy” from “underperform” by analysts at Bank of America with a target price of $9.
• Bel Fuse, Inc. (NASDAQ:BELFB) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Needham & Company with a target price of $19.
• Brown & Brown, Inc. (NYSE:BRO) was raised to an “outperform” rating from a “neutral” rating by analysts at Macquarie with a target price of $30.
• ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Jefferies Group with a target price of $35.
• Cambrex Corporation (NYSE:CBM) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Longbow Research with a target price of $15.
• DuPont Fabros Technology, Inc. (NYSE:DFT) was raised to “outperform” from “sector perform” by analysts at RBC Capital Markets with a target price of $28.
• HMS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:HMSY) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Jefferies Group with a target price of $29.
• Kubota Corp (ADR) (NYSE:KUB) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Bank of America.
• Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) was raised to “fair value” from “sell” by analysts at CRT Capital.
• Pilgrims Pride Corporation (NYSE:PPC) was lifted to “overweight” from “equal weight” by analysts at Stephens.
• Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) was upgraded to “outperform” from “underperform” by analysts at Credit Agricole.
• St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) was raised to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Mizuho with a target price of $40.
• Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. (NASDAQ:ULTA) was lifted to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Wells Fargo & Co.
• Walter Investment Management Corp (NYSEAMEX:WAC) was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods with a target price of $55.
• Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF.B) was downgraded to “sell” from “neutral” by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
• Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co. (NASDAQ:HITK) was lowered to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Standpoint Research.
• NTELOS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:NTLS) was cut to “underperform” from “market perform” by analysts at FBR Capital with a target price of $5.
• OPNET Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPNT) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Mizuho.
• Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. (NYSE:SWK) was lowered by analysts at Longbow Research from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating.
• Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) was cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Bank of America with a target price of $63.
• Talisman Energy Inc. (USA) (NYSE:TLM) was downgraded to “market perform” from “outperform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $13.
• Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) was lowered by analysts at UBS AG from a “buy” rating to a “neutral rating” with a target price of $73.